The moonlight beat down on the waves. The night was brushed in a silver varnish as my toes made contact with the water. Before my brain could comprehend the chilly sea, I splashed in and slipped under. It was Wednesday night and the moon had lit up our yard in a way that drove us to don swimsuits and hasten to the beach. Purpled clouds glided across the sky. When the moon slipped through a hole, it radiated surreally onto our faces. We laughed and hollered, breaking up the stillness of the town. I laid on my back, the salt water tickling my tongue and keeping me afloat. My vision was filled with stars and sky. I stayed like that for a while as the sound of the boys murmured and mixed with the sound of rushing sand with each falling wave. When the bout of lunar madness ended and the icy water set in our bones we ran out of the sea and headed home.
Just a day in the life of a volunteer worker: a cup of coffee in a sun-soaked yard, an hour of cleaning in the chateau, another four or so hours of weeding and crawling through the garden, before whipping up some lunch and accomplishing some personal tasks, sometimes finished with an adventure. The work is enjoyable simply because of the setting. I can ignore the twinge in my back and the sweat on my neck when the breeze blows and the palm trees rustle. I've learned how to cook different dishes with the same veggies for five days straight and that you aren't supposed to cut down bamboo with yellow stalks because it might be an expensive strain of ornamental bamboo.
My time here is flying by. I only have a few days left of hacking at huge weeds and watching the azure sea pull and push. I will miss the whistling of my coworkers and the constant argument on who will have the pleasure of doing the dishes (I'm not even being sarcastic--we all want to) and the jumping around and waving big sticks that happens when a wild boar comes along. I love this place, with its singular grocery store that is closed a third of the time and the rodent in my wall that wakes me up with its incessant chattering. But my tourist visa only allows me in the Schengen zone (most of Europe) for 90 days every six months and I want to see a little more of the world than this. I had been planning how to get to Assisi, Italy my next Workaway, when I impulsively decided to fit a few days in Rome into my schedule. So my next few days are the last in France, a country that has exceeded all expectations in its beauty and its people.
I've been enraptured in the secluded natural beauty of the South of France, where I can visit little towns and small cities and return home to the bump in the road that is Cavalière. Two of the volunteers and I hike in the surrounding forests and towns. We visited the ruins of a temple in the mountain behind the chateau, where a wealthy man had hidden his lovers. We revisited Saint-Tropez and found it quiet after the regatta, but just as pretty. We met the coolest guy in the center of town, we saw him walk into the square where a party was playing boule, known as bocce ball in the States, and set his pack and 'Walking across Europe' sign and pulled out a bottle of wine. Approaching him, my friend introduced himself and led him over to meet us. Mikhel is an Estonian who saw a video of a man who walked across China and set off on his own mission to walk 5,000 miles across Europe two days later. He bought a few pieces of gear, shouldered his pack, and set off from Sicily with five euros in his pocket. His story of people's kindness and his own survival skills amazed our group of travelers. Mikhel definitely has a unique view on life, planning to experience many places and get everywhere on his own two feet. You can check out his blog to hear about his escapades. Also we have stopped in the next town over from the chateau, Le Lavandou to climb through the alleys and see the locals lounging in cafes.
Check back tomorrow to hear about my unchartered adventure into the Gorges of Verdon.